Meal Planning #2 – 4 Easy Gluten Free Weeknight Meals

Before I get started on the meal planning I want to share an interesting study I heard about on NPR. The study tried to find out if cooking shows make us fat. And the study found there is “an 11-pound difference between the “doers” (the women watching and cooking) compared with the “viewers” (the women who watched but didn’t cook)”. Well duh. There is no way some of the chefs could maintain their TV figure and TV personality with the kind of food they are making. Have you seen Giada? So why do they show that type of food? Because it’s what we want to watch. All they are trying to do is keep the ratings up. I think most of us would agree we wouldn’t want to watch a show that tried to teach us how bad some foods are for us and how we shouldn’t be eating. Not to mention how complicated and time consuming many of the recipes are. No wonder so many people do not cook. If the TV cooking shows are an example for what cooking everyday should be like I would have given up cooking a long time ago. The popular cooking shows are all about fantasy and entertainment.

This week’s dinners were super easy which makes evenings so nice and not stressful. This is a great meal plan (at least 4 of the meals) for a full time working new mom like me. These are real, delicious, and healthy recipes for a real person who does not have a lot of time to cook. A lot of prep can be done the night before so you can eat quickly when you get home. Here is what we had.

Monday
Seared Ahi Tacos and Air Fryer Sweet Potato Fries

Tuesday
I bought a pre-made corned beef kit from our local grocery store, Lazy Acres. I came home at lunch and put it in the pressure cooker with water per the instructions and set it for 90 minutes. When I came home from work I added the vegetables and set it for another 5 minutes which was a little too long. I would do 2-3 minutes next time.

Wednesday
I had errands to run after work so we picked up burgers from MVP’s

Thursday
We had air fryer salmon and Christmas salad without the pomegranates. I pre-make the salad and only add dill to our servings so it lasts several days. For the air fryer salmon, I place the pieces on a rack inside the air fryer and set it to 270 degrees for 15 minutes. I then sprinkle dill on top. Seriously dinner cannot get any easier than this. It’s faster than picking something up and way healthier.

Friday
We had pressure cooker whole chicken, roasted brussel sprouts and leftover corned beef. I buy Mary’s Organic Free Range Chicken and made it Thursday night after dinner. I put 4 garlic cloves, 1 pierced lemon, and a packet of poultry herbs inside the chicken. I used 1 stick of softened butter and fresh ground pepper on the outside of the chicken. I fill the pressure cooker to the top of the rack with water and place the chicken on top of the rack. The prep work took less than 10 minutes and with the Secura Electric Pressure Cooker you can just set it and forget it. I set the pressure cooker for 25 minutes and stored the cooked chicken in the refrigerator so all we had to do was re-heat it Friday night.

Adriana tried blueberries and bananas this week and was not a big fan so we went back to butternut squash made in the pressure cooker of course. We got a very strong head shake with the blueberries. I do not think she knows that actually means no but she was definitely telling us no she did not want it.

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Seared Ahi Tacos with Sriracha Aioli

Seared Ahi Tacos

There’s nothing I love more than when dinner takes about 10 minutes and is super delicious. This is one of my favorites. You just need a few ingredients and you have a delicious meal that is way better than going out to a restaurant. When I lived in Japan, my host family never went out to dinner. Sushi was made from cut pieces of nori, homemade sushi rice, fresh fish, and other simple toppings. We would make mini tacos out of the ingredients and everyone made their own individual hand rolls. It was so much fun and is one of my favorite memories of the amazing food my host mom would prepare. Here is my simplified version of that meal that makes for a really easy weeknight dinner. We had ours with pressure cooked artichoke which also tastes great with the Sriracha Aioli.

Ingredients:
1 Package Roasted Seaweed
1 lb. Sushi Grade Ahi
Fresh Ground Pepper
1 Tbsp Olive Oil
Avocado, sliced

Combine for Sriracha Aioli:
1/4 Cup Mayonnaise
1/4 Cup Sriracha

Alternative: Combine the following for Citrus Sesame Soy Sauce
1/3 Cup Fresh Squeezed Orange Juice
1.5 Tbsp. Tamari Gluten Free Soy Sauce
1.5 Tbsp. Sesame Oil
1 Tbsp. Minced Ginger

To Make The Seared Ahi:
1. Heat pan coated with olive oil to medium heat.
2. Coat both sides of Ahi with a lot of fresh ground pepper. Don’t be shy.
3. Sear Ahi about 1-2 minutes per side.
4. Slice Ahi opposite the fish grain.
5. Place pieces of ahi on top of roasted seaweed, top with avocado and Sriracha Aioli

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Meal Planning – 5 Easy Gluten Free Meals

I’m not going to lie. Working and being a new mom has been super hard. Much harder than I expected. I have been going non-stop and had very little time to rest much less any time to myself. Cooking dinner every night can seem impossible to juggle with everything else. Eating out is expensive, makes it too easy to eat unhealthy, and gives me more opportunities to accidentally have gluten. It’s so important to me to continue to eat home cooked meals as much as possible. So I’ve had to adjust a lot. I have had to prioritize, plan, and the hardest of all say no to as much as possible. I love being a mom so much and we have the most amazing, sweet, and super relaxed baby who sleeps really well. We seriously hit the jackpot with our little one and I could not be more in love with her. Plus Antonio has been amazing. He helps with everything and gets so much more done in his day than I do. I expect things to be super busy for a long time and I am hopeful that being able to juggle it will only get easier. A big change I have made is to start meal planning and prepping in advance. I used to be able to stop by the store after work several nights a week. That is nearly impossible for me now and just takes up extra time that I do not want to spend that way. This week’s meal plan is easy and takes only a little bit of planning. As you can see I use an AirFryer and Pressure Cooker almost every day. They make cooking so much faster. I definitely did not expect to be using them as much as I do and am so happy they both have been such great tools. Here are 5 really easy, gluten free, and fast meals that make cooking every night at home after work possible for us.

Shrimp Tacos
Monday
Shrimp Tacos
AirFryer Zucchini

Pressure Cooker Chicken
Tuesday
Pressure Cooker Chicken – I made this on Monday while we were eating dinner. I filled the bottom of the pressure cooker with water up to the top of the rack and placed the chicken on top of the rack. I used this recipe and cooked the chicken for 25 minutes.
Sriracha AirFryer Cauliflower – this is a new recipe i’ll be posting soon

Wednesday
AirFryer Salmon – this is a new recipe i’ll be posting soon
Pressure Cooker Butternut squash

Pulled Pork Tacos
Thursday
Slow Cooker Chile Verde Pork Tacos – I’m going to make these in the Pressure Cooker

Easy BBQ Baby Back Ribs Recipe
Friday
Ribs – I’m going to make these in the oven Thursday night and finish them in the AirFryer on Friday
Sweet Potato soufflé with cheese and bacon – this is a new recipe i’ll be posting soon

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AirFryer Sweet Potato Fries

If I were to tell you that it is possible to combine the words healthy, delicious and french fries in the same sentence you would not believe me. I do not even believe it. But with the Philips AirFryer it is possible. More popular in Europe, Asia, and Australia, the AirFryer is finally making its way to popularity in the US market just in time for New Year’s resolutions. The last thing I thought I needed was another appliance. I’m already out of kitchen space and have to store a bunch of things from my kitchen in my garage. Surprisingly I have used my AirFryer almost every day since I bought it and not just for french fries. I have made steak, bacon, yellow squash, zucchini, and brussel sprouts in it already. Every time I use it I think of something else I could use it for. Everything comes out delicious and it is easy to use, easy to clean, and saves me so much cooking time. It’s perfect for meals for 2-3 people. My favorite thing i’ve made and the reason I decided to buy the AirFryer is for these sweet potato fries. They are so incredibly delicious you forget they are healthy. With the AirFryer they are crispy outside just like deep fried potatoes but do not taste greasy. They are super easy and of course so delicious. Here is how you make them.

Sweet Potato Air Fries 2

Ingredients:
1 Sweet Potato Peeled and Cut Evenly into French Fry Sticks
1 Tbsp Olive Oil
Pinch of Salt

Sweet Potato Air Fries 3

Directions
1. Soak Sweet Potato Sticks in water for 30 minutes
2. Rinse and dry
3. Spray with olive oil and add salt
4. Pre-heat AirFryer to 330 degrees
5. Air fry sweet potatoes at 330 degrees for 5 minutes.
6. Open AirFryer, stir potatoes, close AirFryer and increase temperature to 390 degrees.
7. Cook for 10-15 minutes longer {depending on how thick you cut the potatoes} stirring every 5 minutes. Between 10-15 minutes check every 1-2 minutes until done. I like mine to be slightly brown.

Sweet Potato Air Fries

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Baby Food Adventures – Applesauce

Applesauce Make Your Own Baby Food 1

Making Applesauce is really easy. I found a recipe that called for honey, cinnamon, and vanilla and could not make it because I am not yet ready to give my daughter spices. Also, we have been advised that honey is not allowed until she is at least a year old. I made it with just apples and water and tasted a bowl of it after it was made. It was delicious. The best applesauce I’ve ever had. I would definitely make this again and make it exactly the same way. I’m sure this is nothing new but this is how I made applesauce using my pressure cooker.

Here is what you need:

Approximately 6 cups of peeled and cut apples. Cut them all approximately the same size.
2 cups water

Applesauce Make Your Own Babyfood 3

Instructions
1. Place apples and water in pressure cooker
2. Set pressure cooker for 90 minutes making sure the pressure valve is set to on
3. Turn off and let pressure cooker stand for approximately 15 minutes until pressure is released naturally.
4. Blend all ingredients until completely smooth
5. Store in refrigerator or freeze in sterilized ice cube trays for single servings later.

For the freezer method, you can first freeze in sanitized ice cube trays covered with plastic. Once frozen you can remove from trays and store cubes in ziplock bags. For detailed food safety storage guidelines read more here.

Applesauce Make Your Own Babyfood 2

Useful links:
Guide to Introducing Solids
Food Safety Storage Guide

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Baby Food Adventures – Butternut Squash

Making baby food is so easy I feel silly even posting this. But, I felt intimidated at first and think a lot of moms feel the same so I thought it may help someone else if I share my experience. I’ve decided to make my own baby food for several reasons.

1. I don’t want the baby food to be older than the baby. I want my daughter to have fresh food not out of a jar that has been on a shelf longer than she has been alive.
2. I’ve heard it’s easy.
3. I’ve heard it’s cheaper.
4. I want to know exactly what ingredients she is getting.
5. I want her to be exposed to the same foods we eat so she transitions into adult food easily and gets used to the flavors we like. I want her to eat the same foods we eat so I do not have to make different meals for her.

We were thrown into starting baby food a lot earlier than anticipated. I had planned on waiting until the 6 month mark but my daughter suddenly stopped sleeping through the night waking up at 2 am at 5 months very hungry. This was after several months of her sleeping 10-12 hours a night every night. There are several signs you can look for like how much they weigh, how well the baby is holding their head up, and whether they are able to swallow to determine if your baby is ready for food but I recommend calling your doctor to make sure they agree before you start. I called her doctor and explained the situation and asked if I should start on food. They asked me a bunch of questions and ultimately they agreed she was ready. They recommended mixing 1 Tbsp of rice cereal with breast milk twice a day for about 3 weeks and then to slowly introduce other vegetables and fruit by adding 1 new item per week. We wanted to start with vegetables rather than fruit and to decide what to feed her after the rice cereal I used this chart. We started with rice cereal, added Carrots for a week, Sweet Potatoes the next week, and this week Butternut Squash. Butternut Squash seems to be the favorite so far but it could be her getting used to food after several weeks of trying new things. We give her about 1 Tbsp twice a day with a spoon but do not force anything. Sometimes she will take the spoon in her mouth and sometimes she will eat the food off of the spoon when it is placed in front of her lips. We never try to feed her food when she is really hungry because we think she will get too frustrated. Between meals when she is neither super hungry or full seems to be the best times.

To make your own baby food you really only need a blender and an oven to roast or a pot to steam the vegetables in. You do not need the tools I use. I like using my Secura Electric Pressure Cooker and NUK Baby Food Maker because they speed up the process and make cleanup super easy. My Nuk steamer and food maker is discontinued but there is a similar one by BEABA. I could have cut the butternut squash and steamed it in my baby food maker for this recipe but have you ever tried cutting a butternut squash before it is cooked? It is so much easier to cut and remove the skin after they have been cooked.

Here is how I made the Butternut Squash. Alternatively you can roast the whole squash in the oven.

1. Wash the squash
Butternut Squash Make Your Own Baby Food 13

2. Place the steam rack in the bottom of the pressure cooker and fill to top with water.

Butternut Squash Make Your Own Baby Food 12

3. Add the steam basket
Butternut Squash Make Your Own Baby Food 11

4. Place the whole butternut squash in basket
Butternut Squash Make Your Own Baby Food 10

5. Close pressure cooker and set pressure cooking time to 15 minutes.
Butternut Squash Make Your Own Baby Food 9

6. Make sure the dial is set to pressure.
Butternut Squash Make Your Own Baby Food 8

7. This is why I love the electric pressure cooker. After the time is up it stops itself and beeps to let you know it is done. If you are busy you can just forget about it. I turned mine to off and let it stand closed for about 15 minutes to let the pressure release naturally because I do not like all of the steam that comes out when you force release the pressure.
Butternut Squash Make Your Own Baby Food 7

8. Turn the dial to release to make sure all the pressure is released naturally. Open the lid and carefully remove the butternut squash with tongs. It is still very hot.
Butternut Squash Make Your Own Baby Food 6

9. Let the squash cool and remove the skin and seeds with a fork and a knife.
Butternut Squash Make Your Own Baby Food 5

10. The squash is very soft and ready to blend.
Butternut Squash Make Your Own Baby Food 3

11. Place in blender and blend until very smooth.
Butternut Squash Make your own baby food 2

12. Once it is done you can place in the fridge or store in the freezer. For the freezer method, you can first freeze in sanitized ice cube trays covered with plastic. Once frozen you can remove from trays and store cubes in ziplock bags. For detailed food safety storage guidelines read more here. We have been storing ours in the refrigerator and heat it up in the microwave to serve it at room temperature. We plan to use the freezer method but for now have been making more every couple of days.
Butternut Squash Mae your own baby food 1

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Arepas – Delight Gluten Free Magazine Blogger of the Week

Arepas

It’s so hard to believe my blog is well into its 2nd year. It’s been quite a learning curve with wordpress, some html, digital slr photography, photoshop, google analytics, and more. I have loved learning so many new things and am still having so much fun. My blog has come such a long way yet there is so much more I think I want to do. It’s a hobby that I only do in my spare time so I don’t necessarily have any goals or long-term vision for it other than to keep posting as long as i’m still enjoying it. Therefore, I am so honored that I was recently interviewed by Delight Gluten Free Magazine and this week am featured as their gluten free blogger of the week. To learn more about me, why I started this blog, and my favorite restaurant in Long Beach click here. For the feature, I also shared this super easy Arepas recipe and one of my new favorite quick gluten free snacks to make.

Ingredients
1 Cup PAN Harina Blanca (Pre Cooked White Cornmeal)
1/4 tsp Salt
1 Cup Water
Olive oil
Avocado, Sliced
Queso Fresco, Sliced
Mango, sliced

Instructions
1. Turn on Arepa maker to preheat
2. Pour water into a bowl and add the salt
3. Slowly stir in the Pan Harina Blanco until completely combined
4. Roll the dough into 4 balls and press each of them down until approximately 3/4″ thick
5. Spray or use a paper towel to coat arepa maker with olive oil
6. Close arepa maker and cook for 15 minutes
7. Cut open arepa and add cheese, mango, and avocado

Serve with Guasacaca Sauce

Arepas 3

Arepas 5

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Butterscotch Bulletproof Coffee

Bulletproof Coffee

I had no idea of the health benefits when I started making my own version of bulletproof coffee. I just drink it because it tastes so good. So here is how I came to start drinking it. I love that I had two friends in the same week ask me the same question “so what is this Bulletproof coffee thing?” It meant two things to me. First, my friends see me as an expert when they hear about trends in food. Two, the way I am eating is becoming more mainstream. When they asked me I actually had never had bulletproof coffee anywhere. I had tried just grass fed butter in my coffee and loved it but had not been drinking coffee for so long while I was pregnant that I forgot about it. A few weeks ago I was visiting a friend of mine and her husband asked me if I wanted to try bulletproof coffee and I happily said “yes!” I already had my coffee from home so he blended in some coconut oil and ghee and it was delicious. It tasted like butterscotch to me and I thought to myself why does anyone want to have sugary flavored syrup in their coffee when they can have this? So I started making it myself at home.

The name bulletproof coffee was created by Dave Asprey who stumbled upon the idea on a trip to Tibet. He felt more energized on that trip than any other high altitude trip he had been on and credits the yak butter tea the sherpas drink. When he returned home, he created his own version with coffee. He sells a whole line of products including coffee and oil. It’s now available in local coffee shops nationwide and he plans to open Bulletproof stores. To read more, click here.

I personally feel more satisfied and energetic when I drink it but still only drink it because it tastes really good. Here are some of the health benefits of drinking bulletproof coffee from reading various websites:

Improves cognitive function
Keeps you feeling satisfied
Keeps your energy level balanced
Trains your body to burn fat for energy
Eliminates Snack Cravings
Reduces Inflammation
Boosts Metabolism

In the past I wrote about how we make our coffee every morning using a Chemex. Since that post we have started crushing a small piece of cinnamon stick and adding it to the bottom of the Chemex filter which you will see in the photos. This is how I make my Coffee Bulletproof- Combine the following using a blender or handheld milk frother. The blender does a better job mixing everything together but I prefer the handheld frother because it’s faster and less to clean. I just use the frother for a couple of minutes to mix it really well and it has almost the same emulsifying effect of using the blender.

This is the amount I currently use because it is very rich. However, it is recommended to work your way up to 1-2 Tablespoons of the Ghee and Coconut oil.
8oz. Coffee
1/2 tsp Ghee
1/2 tsp Unscented Coconut Oil

Bulletproof Coffee 1

Bulletproof Coffee 2

Bulletproof Coffee 3

Bulletproof Coffee 5

Bulletproof Coffee 8

Bulletproof Coffee 9

Bulletproof Coffee 10

Bulletproof Coffee 13

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Juicy Fruity Prickly Pear Margarita

Cactus Fruit Margarita 2

Did you know the fruits that grow on Cactus trees are edible? Not only are they edible, they are delicious. They have many names – Cactus Fruit, Prickly Pear, Cactus Fig, Optunia, and their Spanish name, Tuna. I find them almost year-round at our local hispanic food market and make Margaritas with them. To remove the nubs on the skin which contain spines: slice off the ends of the fruit, make a lengthwise incision, and peel off the rind. This post was featured on BevMo!’s Thirsty Times blog. To see the recipe and instructions, click here.

Cactus Fruit Margarita 3

Cactus fruit margarita 5

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Spiked Hot Cocoa Bar

Hot Cocoa Bar

This New Year’s Eve try surprising your guests with something unexpected – A self-serve hot chocolate bar. It’s an ideal drink to make as a self serve station so you too can enjoy your own party. It’s a great treat for both adults and kids who will have fun making their own personalized versions. For the kids and adults have fun with toppings and for the adults provide some fun alcohol to spike their drinks with. To get started, all you need is to make the hot chocolate, set up the toppings, and provide cups. See the full post on BevMo!’s Thirsty Times Blog.

Hot Cocoa Bar 3

Spiked Hot Cocoa Bar

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